The process of creating my mosaic art pieces.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Freeze Damage 

Here’s a look at what 24 degrees does to tropical shrubbery.
The Ficus is toast.

The temptation is to pull out all the dead plant stuff and replant…now that it is back up in the mid-70’s ! It smells like rotting hay, too.

But this would be a fatal error since there are always cold snaps in January and February.
I hate looking at all this dead foliage until March, but that’s the way it is.

The baby peas over in the garden pulled through OK. We didn’t even cover them! Yummy visions of stir-fry peas and carrots.

Today the Z boys are here working on their air conditioners. That’s a sign that summer will come again.

They also made a repair for the air compressor and did a little more clean-up. I will serve them hot dogs and pork n beans for supper.

I ran up to the dollar store to get hot dog buns and I saw that some moron has dumped tires right by the neighbor’s fence. I hope we don’t get blamed for this. (I probably still have my receipts from the two times I hauled our tires to the dump.)

Tonight we will watch football on the TV and drink Maker’s Mark/Canadian 12 and fall asleep by 12:01!

Happy New Year to ALL!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Florida Freeze 

This is the coldest December EVER!!!
None colder since they started keeping records.

Plant Daddy and I had been up running irrigation on the citrus, checking greenhouses, etc for 2 nights previous. Forcasters predicted 33 and they had been wrong for the past 2 nights. Last night we thought it would only be 30. We thought we could squeak by without frost blankets and opening irrigation lines!

Oh hell no!
We had 24 last night. Very heavy frost.

We've spent the day replacing cracked irrigation lines. Since they weren't left dripping, they froze and cracked. Also lost 2 nozzles and a wand. Grrr.

The landscape looks like nuclear winter again. The power bills were shocking...get it...shocking? I wish that were funnier. Those bills, one for the house and one for the business, were budget busters.

The garden is alive but not thriving.

We miss the Kid. Tomorrow in SOuth Dakota a Blizzard is forecast with high temps in the teens. Lows overnight will hit NEGATIVE numbers. I don't know how anyone can survive that. You are all invited to Florida...where I guess 24 seems balmy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010



My Dad, Joe, was a large man. He was 6’3”, weighed in around 200 lbs and was very out going. He’d walk up to a complete stranger, offer a handshake and cheerfully boom, “Hello there, Governor.”

He navigated all sorts of situations this way with a natural ease.

I only ever saw my Dad afraid one time.

Dad and Mom had bought a farm. They ran a few horses, rented a pasture to a local man for hay, and sold some timber off the place. Mostly, it was a hedge against taxes and a haven for teenagers (me and my sister and lots of friends) to hang out on weekends.

The neighbor, Bob Williams, a local lawyer, owned the adjoining farm.
Bob decided to use his land to raise (tax) cows. One afternoon he invited Dad over to visit the herd. Dad took me.

We bounced across the field in a small, red Toyota pick-up truck and pulled up to Bob’s barn. Bob had corralled the cows for close inspection. “C’mon!” Bob said, opening a gate for me and Dad to wade in. So in we went.

Now I was shorter then, a mere 5’6 or so, and was quickly overwhelmed by heifers. I groaned as my head sank under the cow-sea. I punched cow bellies for all I was worth and made my immediate escape back to the fencing. I climbed for dear life.

Dad and Bob determined to go through the herd and open a gate on the opposite side. They quickly became sucked into a cow mob and were buffeted without mercy.

The cows were angry. The reddish brown tide of sirloin formed a circle with Dad and Bob in the center. They lowered their heads and began butting into Dad and Bob. Both men looked alarmed.

“Punch ‘em,” hollered Bob.

The press of rawhide was so great, Dad’s eyes bulged and all he could do was grunt, but he managed to get his arms free enough to slap and hit and cause a little retreat. He whistled; cow heads twitched. In the moment of surprise and pause, Dad lurched and grabbed the safety of the fence.

Bob managed to kick a cow in her lowered head with his thick-heeled riding boots, but a rump swung over and almost knocked him to the ground. Dad whistled again. Bob navigated by the sound and made hay, not towards us, but towards the gate latch.

I heard the clank of hardware, then, it was like watching a toilet flush. Fat cows with ears laid back, and eyes bulging with wild determination stampeded out to the pasture.

I was trembling and could barely walk when I dropped off the fence and hugged Dad. Bob slammed the gate shut. Both men were panting.

Bob lifted a hip flask from his jacket pocket and sucked a draft.
“Nice herd,” said Dad, who did not refuse a draw himself.

We excused ourselves and drove back without a wave goodbye.

Two weeks later, Bob invited us to come over and see his new flock of chickens.
He’d sold off all the cattle.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Hooray! Santa came through.
He went on eBay and got me a shiny new Canon camera.

The Canon has 12.1 megapixels. The old Olympus only had 3.2 megapixels…but that wasn’t the reason the Olympus got dumped. Olympus got dumped because it needed new batteries after every two or three photos.

The battery gobbling only developed in the last 6 months, but it was totally unacceptable. I cannot afford to feed a camera a battery every time it takes a shot.

I had a little attack of sentimentality when I took the Olympus to the dumpster this afternoon.

Santa brought my first camera, a Kodak Brownie …complete with flash attachment, when I was eight years old. I shot up rolls of film with delight and abandon until my parents installed a limit of 2 rolls of film per week.

In those days, developing film meant a drive to Rexall Drug store, deposit the film and report in a week to 10 days to see how the pictures turned out.

Just like television, film only came in black and white. I don’t remember having color film for the Brownie at all.

I had an Instamatic in 7th grade. Loading film into that was a breeze and by then color pictures could be taken.

However, developing film meant a drive to Rexall Drug store, deposit the film and report in a week to 10 days to see how the pictures turned out.

I did not have another camera until I married Plant Daddy and he had an Olympus. It used slide film, mostly for pictures of plants for work. If we wanted snapshots, we had to buy different film.

Developing the film…for work or for personal use… meant a drive to Eckerd’s Drug store, deposit the film and report in a week to 10 days to see how the film turned out.

If you needed the pictures the next day, you could take the film to Winn-Dixie, and pay through the nose for the service. It was something like $10.00 for 24 hour service on 20 pictures, but we thought that was great in a pinch. We couldn’t afford it as a routine process though.

Plant Daddy switched to digital at work in the early 1980’s.

Our first digital cameras for home use were the Olympus we just threw out!

The Olympus had lasted seven years, and got me pretty far down the road as far as blogging and publishing went. But ultimately…time for a fresh start.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All 

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas Day.

We have enjoyed a nice visit from Santa! He got me a new camera. I am going to spend the day snapping shots, learning how to upload them, edit, etc and will share tham later this afternoon or asap.

Stay warm! Stay Merry! Stay tuned!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010 

We are having a nice warm Christmas Eve Day.
The sun is shining. It is in the 60’s! And within 24 hours, the temps will be back in the 20’s! Yikes!

We will spend the day harvesting citrus, covering the garden, and closing up the greenhouses for warmth. As I write, I hear the power washer chugging. Plant Daddy is hosing oak leaves out of the carport.

I will be cooking the holiday lasagna this afternoon. And will make a citrus salad with naval oranges, pink and white grapefruits and easy peeler oranges. We did not manage to have a Christmas pineapple. I will add maraschino cherries.

We have a few early strawberries, so I bought some Redi-Whip to go with. LME and PD made bread yesterday, so we’re good there. I will give PD his “gift”…Stilton Cheese and Carr’s crackers…when we need a snack this afternoon.

There are rumors that a pie will be made with frozen blackberries. Ah, sweet memories of Memorial Day!

I still have one gift to wrap, but LME has not started wrapping. She will panic later, but we have enough extra paper and ribbons to keep her busy.

Two cards came that really meant the world to me. One came from my major professor at UGA. I was delighted and will write back to him asap.

The other was also from an old friend in Athens. Her Christmas message was “Locked in a staring contest…me…and a frog.” That is so perfect, I am framing it!

Enjoy the day and I sure hope Santa got me a camera! I’ll let ya know asap!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jenn and Josh Wedding 

Congratulations and Best Wishes and All our Love to Jenn and Josh!

The wedding was at the University of Georgia Botanical Gardens, a beautiful spot now with a chapel and multi-purpose/reception room.

When I was at UGa in the late 1970's, the school had just acquired the land for the gardens. All that was there then was a parking lot and a few paths in the woods. The favorite path led down to the river and those who knew...the mycologists among us agricultural grad students...walked along and harvested morel mushrooms.
I tried, I begged folks who knew the correct identification to show me, but somehow I never got in on this. So I've still never had morels.

The menu for the wedding was a chili bar and a do it yourself baked potato with toppings. No morels for the wedding party either.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Shopping 

LME woke up this morning and immediately dashed out to the Mall of Millenia.

I woke up and mozied over to Lake Square Mall after lunch.
Here's a snapshot:

A plethora of sheriff's cars.
Two hookers loitering despite the plethora of deputies.

A gaggle of Chinese teenagers/exchange students. They were well dressed, well-groomed. I don't mean to perpetuate a stereotype here, but they could not drive their carts worth a hoodlie toodle. They were bumping shelves and people to beat the band.

I saw one black boy about 9 or 10 wearing a "Vick" jersey. I had to stifle the urge to ask it he, too wanted a puppy for Christmas. Bow-Wow.

I did not see any comparable wealthy looking white teens.

The lines at Publix were long but not hurricanesque. Minimum with bawling children, thank goodness.

I was out for the ingredients for the annual lasagne dinner. I did not buy any gifts. I hope not to have to go out now until Monday...if that!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Pool Care 

Cleaning the pool in July is a hot and sticky job, but then I can jump in the water afterwards and cool off.

Cleaning the pool in December is cold. The water is like ice; I did my best to stay dry, but didn't manage it in the long run. There were a ton of leaves and acorns to vacuum up. I had to flush the filter twice to handle the volume. Brrr.

Also today planted the peas and replaced a couple of cauliflowers that the cutworms mowed off. It's been a while since there was a nice day for outdoor projects.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Burroway textbook 

I am about halfway through the Burroway text book about how to write fiction. I have just reached the part about how to use dialog tags. I love it! Getting this info only took 6 years!

Basically the dialog tags are like foundations...you don't want to call attention to your bra strap, but you want it there to do the job.

Also I am reading about how to put tension into the characters. I have understood for a while that you have to build tension into the plot, but now I know a few techniques to build tension into a character. Cool.

I got "dinged" by reviewers a lot on weak characterization this year. I intend to do better in 2011. Already I edited one story to hide an expression of feeling so that the reader builds tension instead of "telling" the reader what the character feels.

Does any of this make sense? Probably just notes to myself.

Roasted Winter Veggies 

Here's what's for supper:

The mix contains sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, russet potatoes, red potatoes, broccoli, one turnip from the garden, carrots, onions, garlic and I had some leftover salsa made from our tomatoes and peppers, so I tossed that in too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


We are sad to tell you that our precious kitty Zeus has passed.

Actually Zeus passed back in the summer, but we waited till we could tell Little Mind Escape in person. Now that she knows and has had a chance to settle, we can place the marker...out by the bird feeder, of course. to remind our feathered friends to stay heads up.

Zeus was the best cat ever. We've had some great pets: Mandy, Bear, Sunny, Maxine, even BoBo, but Zeus was the KING!

We miss him.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nice Sunny Day 

Nothing exceptional happened today. Isn't that a blessing?

I had been feeling puny, so I just took it slow and steady. Less queasy today, so I got a few chores accomplished, fired up the Speed Queen and got laundry done, and wrapped some Christmas gifts.

The best part of the day was watering the garden. The sunshine was nice. Mostly in Florida the weather is hot and the sun is the cause. You want to stay in the shade…heck, most of the time you want to stay in the house with the fan or A/C on. But today was one of those very rare days I stood in the sunshine at 2:00PM and appreciated the warmth and light.

I really want to get the peas transplanted, but I have to arrange fencing for that area. Mr. Bunny will be in on the peas like white on rice. Bad Bunny!

I made a homemade salsa for supper. The tomatoes are high in Vitamin C. I left out the spicy peppers tho! Very refreshing. Maybe I’m on the road to recovery.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jenn and Josh Wedding 

Back in the summer when Little Mind Escape ordered her bridesmaid dress, I cautioned her that she ought also to order the matching wrap, lest it be cold at a December wedding.

“I’ll be okay. I won’t need it,” she protested in July.

For her birthday in August, I gave her a fake fox wrap. “So you won’t be cold at the wedding in December,” I said.

“I’ll be okay. I won’t need it,” she protested in August.

It is now December. It is going to be about 20 degrees at the wedding location in Georgia. What’s that LME is CLINGING TO?

LME showed up at 6PM yesterday evening and departed this morning at 10AM for points north. We loaded citrus into her trunk so she could share with the wedding party. If she doesn’t remember to take it out, it will freeze solid.

Congratulations and Best Wishes and Love to Jenn and Josh on their big day!

Meanwhile back on the farm, PD and I feel on the verge of flu. Dizziness, stuffy noses and ears, hot then cold. General malaise. We loaded up on Vitamin C and hope we can dodge the virus bullet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So Cold! 

Yesterday I picked all the fruit I could and moved it into the building.

We had 27 degrees last night. We are expecting 22 tonight.

When I went to the Post Office at noon, it was only 37! This is how it looked just after lunch.

It has not been this bad since 1989.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cold Weather 

I spent the afternoon harvesting what citrus I could.
The pipes are wrapped. The garden is covered.

Plant Daddy and I started the irrigation a little while ago. The good news is that is is still 36 degrees outside at 11:30PM.
The bad news is that the high temperature all day tomorrow will be 36 degrees...and then it will get colder tomorrow night.

Toss up a prayer for the strawberry growers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frilly Philly Christmas Tree 

Here's how to get a cute little Christmas tree for your desk.
Use Plant Daddy's Frilly Philly Philodendron trained on a short totem pole!

Then after the holidays, remove the ornaments and have a foliage plant all year long!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Red Letter Day 

We bought the Toyota in February 2009.
Today the odometer turned 10,000 miles.

I told you I stay home a lot!

At this rate, it will take 20 years to log 100,000 miles.

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Draft 

I am so happy I could just spit!

I just finished a word count on the first draft of my story for the World's Greatest Short Story Contest. The word limit is 500 words.

First draft came in at 441! Yay! It's always great to have room to add detail rather than have to slice sections out.

All the competetions where my work was reviewed in 2010 suggested that I need to improve characterization. I am really going to focus there.

Maybe I have a chance!

Gotta go plant some celery now. Clear my head. Actually get some housework and laundry done and dinner on the table.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Celery time 

Temperatures in the 30's took out the tomatoes, eggplant and jalapeno peppers in the last 2 days. I covered 2 large bell peppers, hope they will survive and keep going, but extra cold weather is coming next week. Temps in the 20's. Yikes!

Time to plant the celery.

I may have to cover the transplants, but celery won't freeze once it's established. I love celery.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Santa's Sleigh 

It's my favorite time of year...when Santa's Sleigh stops at the gate.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Leading Economic Indicators 

Economic Indicators

You know the economy’s bad when at the local mall 20 days out from Christmas:

You have your choice of parking spaces in front of Target at noon.

There are more shuttered stores than open ones.

At 1:00PM at the Toys R Us Express, the only shoppers are one Mom, one Dad and one kid.

Sears shelves look sparse…not picked over…neatly stacked stuff, just not very much of it.

There are only 6 people in line for movie tickets.

No kids are riding the mechanical horses/cars/carousels.

There are no barkers selling hand lotion, loop-de-loop airplanes or toy helicopters.

There are less than 25 customers at Belk’s.

At Radio Shack, I was waited on immediately. There were 4 employees and, counting me, 2 customers. Nobody walked in during the 10 minutes I was there.

At Books-A-Million, I actually got helped at Customer Service, and I picked out 3 books, but check out was a problem. I got behind another woman with a coupon.

There was both drug and hooker activity at the mall…but I have never seen anything like what I saw in a car at Publix…it is too blatant to describe. OMG.

When I checked out at Publix, I got behind a woman and 2 kids. She was using a food stamp card but insisted that she get cash back with her purchase. It took a committee to escort her out…without the cash btw.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Two Writing Contests 

Today Plant Daddy and I planted 4 shillings hollies, a magnolia and an oak tree.
Then I ran up to Lowe’s and bought a 9 pack of bibb lettuce and a 9 pack of cauliflower.
Came home and got all that installed. The garden looks fuller now. Will plant the celery tomorrow.

With all this digging, we were hungry, so I made home made noodles. We chopped up the leftover sauerbrauten, added gravy and voila…instant starch coma! We are drooping on the couch now.

I heard of two new writing contests. One is great:

World's Best Short Short Story Contest
Send up to three short-short stories per submission, accompanied by a $15 reading fee. Each short-short story should be no more than 500 words. Include your name, contact information (email address preferred), and the title of each of your short-short stories in a very brief cover letter. Do not include personal identification information on the short-shorts themselves. Robert Olen Butler will judge. One winner will be chosen and awarded $500. The winner and nine finalists will be published in spring/summer 2012. Label envelope: WBSSSC.
Details at The Southeastern Review

The other is a contest (to be avoided) sponsored by the Scientologists/ L. Ron Hubbard. They’ve bought a huge half page ad in this month’s Writers Magazine.
The scientologists are offering big money for your story. And a chance to spend a week locked up in a 1 week workshop with them.

And if you believe that is a legitimate contest and not religious recruitment, you will get what you deserve.
It’s like those “free” weekends at resorts where you have to sit through the ultra high pressure sales pitch!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Raccoon Sighting 

Plant Daddy and I spotted a small raccoon on our evening walk tonight. It was near the front gate and when startled, climbed the chain link and headed toward traffic.

We winced but thankfully, it turned and ran west alongside the road, avoiding traffic.

This must be the one that has been partying on the roof at 1:00AM the last few weeks. Grrr. We are still on the look out for the bear and the bobcats. It's a jungle out here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cranberry Coupons 

I went to the grocery store this afternoon to get spaghetti, bread and Whoops! Did that eggnog just jump into my cart?

Checkout was jammed.
There were 3 lanes open; each had at least 2 customers stacked.
I picked the closest and waded in.
Little did I know I had gotten behind…

THAT woman.

THAT woman (in her 40’s) had a coupon for Buy 1 Get 1 Free Cranberry juice.

“You got the wrong size, M’am,” chirped the cheerful cashier in the freakin’ holiday spirit. “You got the 14 oz size and the coupon only applies to the 11 oz. bottles.”

Cashier was apparently oblivious to the fact that there were 5 people in the que!

“I’ll run and exchange them,” said THAT woman. “I must use the coupon.”

“We’ll just send the bagger,” chirped the checker.

Twice told to get the 11 oz cranberry juice of the brand, off trotted the bagger chick.

“It’s on Aisle 1,” shouted THAT woman.

The person behind THAT woman moaned audibly.
All that poor girl wanted was to pay for her deli sandwich and hit the road.

The two people in line behind me bailed.

I had already unloaded the Ragu, hamburger meat and mozzarella cheese, so I was stuck.

THAT woman smiled at me.
I glared back.

We waited and waited and waited.
One and then two more customers came up behind me, assessed the situation and backed out.

Oh at last…here comes the bag girl and she has…APPLE JUICE.

“Well, at least I got 11 oz bottles, “ bagger twitters as she and THAT woman parade across the store together to fetch the effin cranberry flavor because the time and hassle of all the rest of us don’t count for a crap.

So when it was finally my turn to check out, the cashier was acting all put out because I wasn’t all chatty with her.

The bagger got the last word. The bitch put ALL my food in one flimsy bag, just daring me to hold up the line any longer to re-pack all the Ragu.

I came home. Unpacked the eggnog, added Maker’s Mark and drank the whole quart.
Don’t you just love the holidays!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mystery gift 

Temperatures are supposed to dip into the 40’s tonight. Brrrr.
So I was rambling through closets looking for the quilts…

Oops! I found a Christmas package.

Now here’s the thing…did Plant Daddy hide it there recently?
Or did I hide it there last year?

I have been known to hide gifts then forget where I put them. Aye yi yi!
The ribbon is my ribbon of choice, but I don't recognize the wrapping paper.
It’s not labeled.
It’s a mystery.
A happy one.

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